I have a beautiful heavy old electric fan. It works brilliantly but has rust spots on the blades and the cage around the blades. How can I clean these without causing damage to the surface coating?

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  • 1
    Rust is usually a sign of surface damage. Can try cleaning, but usual to remove rust and some of the surface and refinish/repaint.
    – crip659
    Commented Nov 20, 2022 at 23:31
  • A good old finger-chopper... Commented Nov 20, 2022 at 23:45
  • 2
    This was a popular model before we had lawyers.
    – JACK
    Commented Nov 20, 2022 at 23:49
  • Try with WD40 as rust remover
    – Traveler
    Commented Nov 21, 2022 at 0:29

2 Answers 2


Try rubbing vinegar on the rust spots, let it soak in for 10 minutes and then wipe/wash it off. The fact that you see rust means the surface has already been damaged down to the bare metal so all you can do is remove all the rust and then repaint with a rust preventer paint like Rustoleum.

Caution: This is an old fan. You can tell by the large openings in the fan guard. This is an accident waiting to happen especially if you have children. Be careful.


There are commercial rust removers, q.v. A thick paste type might e useful to cling to the curved surfaces. That said, a proper job will also include sanding or sand-blasting and repainting.

N.B. This fan obviously does not meet modern safety standards.

  • The heavy metal blades, combined with wide openings in the wire guard, make this a fine finger guillotine.
  • Easy access to the internal wiring through the switch or rheostat opening invites electrocution.
  • In addition, the fan is almost certainly not double insulated, likely has no ground, and has deteriorated insulation, further increasing the chances of frying one coming into contact with the device.

If you want to keep it as an * objet d'art*, I suggest removing the mains plug to avoid accidental use.

If you want to use it as a fan, have a qualified repair person make it as safe as possible. Don't trust that keeping it in a out-of-the-way location will prevent the curious from handling it.

  • This reminds me of the classic Sunbeam toaster "upgrades". The difference though is that while you can replace the switch and add proper grounding, etc. for a fan just like for a toaster, that doesn't solve the basic "finger chop" problem. Solving that means adding a whole new custom fit wire grid - just not worth it and it changes the look (but also, fortunately, the feel). Not terribly practical when new fans are commodity items. Commented Nov 21, 2022 at 0:09

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